David Banner had the best of intentions. The Mississippi-bred rapper wanted to give away a free mixtape produced entirely by 9th Wonder titled Death of a Pop Star. But when the pair connected in the studio to record, they soon discovered a problem with Banner's plan: The music was just too good.
"When we did the first three songs, we were like, 'Man, we ain't giving this jam away,' " 9th Wonder, who produced the entire set, told MTV News. "It was like, 'Man, this is really some good music.' "
The former Little Brother beatsmith said his and Banner's chemistry was apparent immediately. "Then about four or five [records] in, we were like, 'Oh boy, we can't give this away,' " he recalled.
The long-in-the-works collection is meant to critique the musical landscape Banner and 9th Wonder come from. According to both men, the idea of hip-hop not speaking to a range of current events left them both frustrated. Banner, in particular, questioned why his generation hasn't addressed the BP oil spill, for example.
The project's title, Death of a Pop Star, stems from the idea that an artist can no longer become an outsize entertainer in today's climate, like Michael Jackson or Lionel Richie, who were known for their philanthropic efforts just as much as their hit records.
Banner, however, stressed that the music on the project — due this summer on the rapper's independent label — is more important than the message.
"Before the message, before any of the rest of the stuff about this album, this album is jamming," he said of the collection, which will include collaborations with Estelle and Ludacris. "I want to get that straight. Something we both talked about, you got a lot of political rappers holding up their fists, but they not jamming. You got a lot of people that are killers and they kill for real, but they not jamming. At the end of the day, we need to get back to what this is about, and that's good music. If you choose to talk about something over a dope beat or dope song, that's fine. Whatever you choose to do when you get on it, if you have the lyrical depth, it's about what you decide to talk about."
Are you looking forward to hearing David Banner and 9th Wonder's collaboration? Let us know in the comments!